Line, the incredibly popular messaging app in Japan, is at the center of a major data breach scandal. Line’s parent company, LY Corp, disclosed this week that personal information of approximately 400,000 users may have been compromised. This data includes names, phone numbers, email addresses, birth dates, and other private details.
Line launched in 2011 and has grown into one of Japan’s most widely-used smartphone apps with over 84 million monthly active users. Known for its cute stickers and emoji, Line offers free messaging and video calls and has become an integral part of daily life and communication in Japan.
Beyond messaging, Line provides a digital wallet feature called Line Pay which allows users to send money to friends, make purchases and payments at convenience stores and vending machines, and even invest in financial securities. The breach has raised concerns about the security of these digital payment functionalities.
LY Corp was formed just last month, merging Line Corp. with internet portal Yahoo Japan and tech holding company Z Holdings. The company acknowledged that the leaked data included not just Line user details but also potentially sensitive client and employee information.
Authorities are still investigating the scale and scope of the data breach. LY Corp has not clarified whether Line’s payment services have been compromised. With no reports yet of the stolen data being misused, the company is scrambling to identify and fix vulnerabilities in its massive database infrastructure spread across Line, Yahoo and other internal platforms.
The Line app data breach deals a severe blow both to LY Corp still integrating from its recent megamerger, as well as to the privacy of 84 million Line messaging and fintech users in Japan. As the country moves to digitize more financial and personal services online, the security of big data will be an ongoing and urgent priority.